Key players marking Earth Celebration’s 20th anniversary this year know what to expect — all except for singer Mio Matsuda. Matsuda is making her debut at the annual celebration of rhythm staged by Kodo, Japan’s best-known taiko drummers. The widely traveled Akita Prefecture native specializes in the fado vocal tradition of Portugal and will be called upon to invoke the spirit of a Rio Carnival and blend it with traditional Japanese percussion. She shouldn’t worry. Those who take the Earth Celebration stage know to expect the unexpected, and we’re the richer for it.
Also check out: Kodo join drummers from Miyakejima Geino Doshikai on the first night. Okinawa’s Ryukyu Geino-dan and Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain appear on the second. Kodo, Matsuda, Hussain, jazz pianist Yosuke Yamashita, Puerto Rican percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo and French Guianese dancer Tamango perform solo and in various collaborations on the final night.
The setting: One of the least accessible of Japan’s music festivals (held in and around Ogi on Sado Island’s southern peninsula) attracts what’s arguably Japan’s most diverse audience — appealing to both hippies and hipsters. If you don’t have hotel reservations, camp on Sobama Beach. There’s an array of workshops and bus tours around Sado.
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